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RoboCop 3 (Blu-ray)

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RoboCop 3Starring Robert Burke, Nancy Allen, Jill Hennessy, Rip Torn

Directed by Fred Dekker

Distributed by Scream Factory


People die in Hollywood all the time – figuratively and otherwise – but it was on November 5, 1993 that a particularly painful death occurred: that of writer/director Fred Dekker’s career. That fateful day saw the release of Dekker’s RoboCop 3 (1993), a movie that managed not only to kill a franchise but any future prospects for nearly the remainder of Dekker’s budding career. In fact, aside from some work on “Star Trek: Enterprise” (2001-2002) the only thing he’s done since is scripting duties on the upcoming The Predator (2018) for his former roommate Shane Black. After delivering two of horror’s hottest cult titles ever, with Night of the Creeps (1986) and The Monster Squad (1987), Dekker should have been cranking out genre pictures and ascending to his place as one of horror’s elite. Why he never didn’t go back to low-budget horror filmmaking after the abysmal failure of RoboCop 3, I’ll never know but, man, of all the “what ifs?” in this industry it pains me to wonder what he might’ve done.

But, then again, he did do RoboCop 3 and he has been quoted as saying that any and all fault people find with the film belongs in his lap, since the studio and everyone else up and down the production line gave him the go-ahead to see it through his way. Although, it is also known the studio wanted a “softer” RoboCop since his primary audience was kids (likely due to 1988’s “RoboCop: The Animated Series) and they felt a PG-13 rating would allow a younger crowd the chance to see him in action. I’m sure the possibility of a greater payday by opening up the potential audience was a consideration, too. Regardless, Dekker’s film is a toothless tale of altruism, with RoboCop spending most of the film helping the homeless, while the over-the-top violence and spitting satire take a far back seat… like, in the trunk.

Detroit is beginning to look more and more like a post-apocalyptic wasteland – in the movie, although that sentence is scarily applicable to 2017 Detroit, too. OCP is struggling to realize its Delta City vision due to the failure of the RoboCop program and subsequent brush with bankruptcy. The company decides to employ Urban Rehabilitators, “Rehabs”, to help speed up the gentrification of the city, forcing residents out of their homes and onto the streets, although OCP claims the Rehabs are there to supplement the waning police force. In order to facilitate their growth, OCP sells out to the Japanese Kanemitsu Corporation, a company who employs a robot enforcer of their own, called “Otomo” (Bruce Locke).

One night, during a stop to check on squatters staying in a rundown church RoboCop (Robert Burke) and Lewis (Nancy Allen) are confronted by the Rehabs who open fire, killing Lewis and damaging RoboCop. The resistance fighters take in RoboCop and give him a place to rest up until Dr. Lazarus (Jill Hennessey), one of RoboCop’s creators, is able to come and perform necessary repairs – including the deletion of Directive 4 which prevents RoboCop from acting against the Rehabs or any employee of OCP. Didn’t he erase those directives in the last movie? Anyway, RoboCop gets spruced up, dons a fancy new set of wings, and flies his metal ass out of the sewers and onto the streets, where a fierce battle between the resistance/police and OCP is underway.

There is so much this film gets wrong that to list every infraction would basically be a rundown of the entire plot, line by line. But here’s where it lost me entirely: the loss of Peter Weller. Sure, Burke kinda looks like Weller if you drink a six-pack and squint your eyes but in terms of speech and mannerisms you just don’t feel like you’re watching the same character. They almost would have been better of either suggesting this is another RoboCop (which probably would’ve been dumb) or keep the helmet on the entire time and have Weller do some ADR work. His commitment to Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch (1991) is the reason given for his absence, and it sounds legit, but his voice really made a world of difference.

Even disregarding the lack of Weller Power, the film is a tragic bore. I don’t want to see RoboCop caught up in a gentrification battle and aiding those less fortunate any more than I wanted to see Rambo fortify an Afghani village and its residents in Rambo III (1988). Yes, I am aware RoboCop’s main directive is to protect the innocent and uphold the public trust, but I want to see him doing it while blasting mf’ers away left and right. Here, he’s a neutered dog with a cone around his neck, laid up for half the running time.

If there is any consolation here, it is found in Basil Poledouris’ return to the composer’s chair. The main themes, a salient absence in RoboCop 2 (1990), make their triumphant return and are virtually the only thing that prevents this movie from looking like a big-budget fan film. If you aren’t much of a film score geek then chances are this won’t matter much but for those of us who feel a stellar score can greatly improve even a poor film this is a much-welcomed return.

A number of returning faces appear here, too, as they did in the previous entry. That sniveling worm Johnson (Felton Perry) is here once more, although The Old Man is no longer OCP CEO; that honor is now bestowed upon Rip Torn, whose character has no name and is credited as “The CEO”. There are a lot of new faces, many of whom went on to greater success (more so than this??), including Stephen Root, Daniel von Bargen, C.C.H. Pounder, Mako, and Bradley Whitford. Even still, these commendable character actors can only do so much to sell this half-baked live-action Saturday morning cartoon. RoboCop deserved a better send-off than this. At the very least – and this is damning with the faintest of praise – it’s better than the uninspired RoboCop (2014) remake.

Unlike RoboCop 2, this film did not receive a new scan and so the 1.85:1 1080p image is the same one found on MGM’s previous Blu-ray. This isn’t such a bad thing, as the last release featured a strong image with great clarity, organic film grain, consistent color saturation, and few instances of dirt & debris. And, you know, given that the film isn’t exactly a celebrated cult classic there wasn’t much reason for Scream Factory to waste money on a new transfer when the existing master was already in great shape.

As with the previous film, RoboCop 3 has an English DTS-HD MA track available in 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround sound. Dialogue levels are nicely balanced and always clear, gunfire has a good sense of direction but weak impact, activity bursts from different corners of the room when required… but the real standout here is the return of Poledouris, who brings back all of RoboCop’s stirring themes and classic cues. It’s just a shame he didn’t provide them for a better film. Someone needs to do a fan edit of RoboCop 2 with this film’s score. Subtitles are available in English.

There are two audio commentary tracks to be found here – first, with co-writer/director Fred Dekker; second, with the “RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop” team.

“Delta City Shuffle: The Making of RoboCop 3” – Expect to find some revealing interviews with Fred Dekker, Nancy Allen, Bruce Locke, etc. here. While some express disappointment in how the film has been received this isn’t the dump fest I was expecting.

“Robo-Vision: The Effects of RoboCop 3” – Again, Phil Tippett and the major special effects players on the picture sit down to discuss what they achieved on-screen for this sequel.

“The Corporate Ladder – Interview with Actor Felton Perry” – Johnson is up to his old ways, once again.

“Training Otomo – Interview with Actor Bruce Locke and Martial Arts Trainer Bill Ryusaki”.

“War Machine – Interview with RoboCop Gun Fabricator James Belohovek”, discusses the weapons seen in the film.

A theatrical trailer and a still gallery are also included.

Special Features:

  • NEW Audio Commentary with director Fred Dekker
  • NEW Audio Commentary with the makers of “RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop” documentary – Gary Smart, Chris Griffiths and Eastwood Allen
  • NEW Delta City Shuffle: The Making of ROBOCOP 3 featuring director Fred Dekker, actors Nancy Allen, Bruce Locke, producer Patrick Crowley, cinematographer Gary Kibbe and production designer Hilda Stark (38 minutes)
  • NEW Robo-Vision: The FX of ROBOCOP 3 featuring Peter Kuran, Phil Tippett, Craig Hayes, Kevin Kutchaver and Paul Gentry (12 minutes)
  • NEW The Corporate Ladder – an interview with actor Felton Perry (11 minutes)
  • NEW Training Otomo – an interview with actor Bruce Locke and martial arts trainer Bill Ryusaki (8 minutes)
  • NEW War Machine – an interview with RoboCop gun fabricator James Belohovek (9 minutes)
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery

BUY IT NOW!

  • RoboCop 3
  • Special Features
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Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review

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Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne

Directed by Charles Martin Smith


I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.

Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.

Now let’s get to it.

First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.

Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.

I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.

Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.

It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!

And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.

Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.

This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.

And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.

Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!

In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?

That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.

Rockstar lighting for days.

Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.

Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.

More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.

Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcornand if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.

Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.

All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!

Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!

  • Trick or Treat (1986) 3.5
3.5

Summary

Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.

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User Rating 3.5 (14 votes)
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AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

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Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


** NO SPOILERS **

It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)
3.5

Summary

The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

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User Rating 4.1 (21 votes)
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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods


The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom
4.0

Summary

In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

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User Rating 3.95 (20 votes)
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